The COP Climate Action Studio (COP CAS) enables doctoral students to remotely participate in the annual UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) Conference of Parties in real time. This programme is a partnership between the SCENARIO Doctoral Training Centre and the Walker Institute.
The COP CAS aims to facilitate the development of key skills surrounding interdisciplinary working, and provide direct experience of how researchers can successfully engage with other stakeholders. Participation in COP CAS provides SCENARIO students with exposure to the latest ideas in policy and practice, and enhancing their abilities to work with users of research.
The UNFCCC discussions can be difficult to access, with limited opportunities for many stakeholders to experience first-hand the discussions taking place in the different sessions. This unique programme enables doctoral students to gain remote access to COP in a supported, dedicated environment. We encourage students to plan which sessions they would like to participate in, as well as plan interviews with individuals and organisations to enhance their understanding of the policy-practice arena.
As part of the programme, students receive training in a number a workshops to help them develop the skills needed to engage with and disseminate some of the key ideas and issues they are exposed to.
The students work together as a group to decide which parts of the COP programme they think will be most useful for them to engage with. This process will be facilitated by the Walker Institute and, as well as developing the skillset of the SCENARIO students, the outputs from this enable a range of stakeholders to follow the conference in a range of formats.
SCENARIO doctoral students will be challenged to work directly with stakeholders, in a way that is truly meaningful to the user community.
The COP CAS directly supports and strengthens the interaction between participating SCENARIO doctoral students and relevant user communities by encouraging students to engage in a more interdisciplinary sphere with a range of academic and non-academic stakeholders. This process helps to change traditional academic practice, producing a cohort of forward-thinking students who are comfortable engaging in the policy and practice arenas to make a real difference to real issues with their research.
The SCENARIO students who participate become both producers and users of the new knowledge they gain from the COP CAS project.
This year, the COP Climate Action Studio at the Walker Institute will be operating from 6–17 November 2017. COP23 will take place in Bonn, Germany. There will be a competition in September to send two doctoral students to the actual conference. All students who register for the programme will get the opportunity to participate remotely via the Climate Action Studio, and will benefit from workshops before and after, which will be used to build skills in communications, as well as enhance understanding of the role of research in policy and practice.
Part of the remote participation experience for COP23 will include access to an innovative prototype robot avatar developed by Deutsche Telekom. The robot will be physically located at COP23, on the Walker exhibition stand, with the user-VR technology located in the Climate Action Studio at the Walker Institute. This extra dimension will provide a unique immersive experience enabling the students to interact with people visiting the exhibition stand.
The first COP Climate Action Studio took place between 7-18 November 2016 during COP22. In total, 13 students from the SCENARIO Doctoral Training Centre took part in this first COP CAS, with two of them selected via a competition to attend the first week of COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco.
The Climate Action Studio set up enabled the students to work in shifts, remotely attending different sessions they had selected during the planning workshops held beforehand, along with interviewing people from those sessions. They were then encouraged to write blog posts as well as tweet about their experiences and what they had found interesting during the week.
The advantage of having the Climate Action Studio set up as a dedicated, structured, time and space was in general considered to be very enabling by the students. Participants felt they had gained a number of things from participation in COP22 via the Climate Action Studio including: enhanced communication skills, a better understanding of climate change policy, and a better understanding of the role of COP. All students who took part in COP CAS in 2016 reported that the time they invested in the programme was worthwhile, and that they were more engaged with COP22 through the Climate Action Studio set-up than they would have been otherwise.
“Being involved in COP CAS definitely helped me to focus on what was happening at COP22, because time was dedicated to these activities.”
“It meant that I followed what was happening each day, and didn't just look at the 'headlines' from the whole event.”
“I learned a lot about an area I thought I was already well-informed about”
“For me the project gave me an entirely new prospective on climate change policy, research and development, and different methods of communication.”
“The experience has made me think more about how I communicate my research and how it will inform policy.”
“I have learnt a great deal about the UN and COP, and felt very engaged in the experience.”